Sunday, January 29, 2012

Top 15: My Madonna Summer Wishlist

For the past few years, I and my fellow fans were explaining to the naysayers that Madonna hadn’t disappeared from the pop landscape, she was merely gearing up for the biggest chapter of her career. We were right.

Over the next five days, Madonna will release a new single, a new music video, a new movie, a new soundtrack album, and make appearances on daytime and late-night television.  In seven days, she’ll play the Super Bowl Halftime Show, giving the most anticipated performance of her thirty year career.

Two days after the Super Bowl, Madonna is expected to officially announce her first world tour of the new decade. Fans have been offering up suggestions for songs worthy of inclusion this time out, and I thought I’d offer my own dream list of what I’d most LOVE to hear live this summer. The chances of hearing some of these would be incredibly slim, but, as Madonna would say, “a girl CAN dream, can't she?". 

Here is my Tour 2012 Wish List, in (sort of) reverse chronological order: 




"CELEBRATION" (2009)


The title track of her 2009 Warner Bros career retrospective, Madonna’s most recent worldwide hit spent just one week in the Billboard Hot 100 thanks to healthy sales upon its debut before becoming Madonna’s 40th #1 single on Billboard’s Dance/Club Play chart. In doing so, Madonna became the first female artist to achieve 40 #1s on any Billboard chart and the first non-country artist to achieve 40 #1s on any Billboard chart. Sampled on the 2009 leg of The Sticky & Sweet Tour, it has never been given a proper performance, and would make a fabulous finale for just about any tour—especially this one. 




"REVOLVER" (2009)

The first collaboration between Madonna and Lil Wayne and the very last single Madonna ever released for Warner Bros was unceremoniously dumped onto the market sans a music video, promotion, or radio airplay. It bombed like no other Madonna single, cracking the Top 20 only in Italy and Finland, while failing to chart in the Top 100 in the USA or United Kingdom. In the US, it even failed to top the Dance/Club Play Chart, where Madonna typically reigns at #1, despite David Guetta’s popular remix. But that shouldn’t mar the reputation of what is arguably one of Madonna’s sexiest, coolest, most polished recordings—it fits in flawlessly after “Justify My Love” and “Erotica” on the Celebration LP and it deserves to finally be immortalized onstage this summer. 




"BROKEN" (2009)

One of the most popular Madonna songs ever to be omitted from her albums, "Broken" was originally recorded as a folk-y song for American Life before it was radically reworked and re-recorded by Madonna and Paul Oakenfold in 2009 for the Celebration compilation. It didn’t make the cut, but in 2010 it leaked and in 2012 it is finally being released as a limited edition 12” vinyl for members of Madonna’s fanclub. I accidentally let my membership expire before I had a shot at owning the song that was my theme through 2011, and I’ve been kicking myself ever since. But it sure would soften the blow if Madonna performed it live! After all, this is a timeless empowerment anthem worthy of comparison to "Give It 2 Me",  “Jump”, and “Express Yourself”.




"IT'S SO COOL" (2009)

"It's So Cool" is another song originally recorded for American Life and re-rerecorded for Celebration with the masterful collaboration of Paul Oakenfold. I love every version of this song (one of the 2002 demos featured guest vocals from Lola Leon!) but this one is my personal favorite: the pro-love message of the track is perfectly hammered home with Oakenfold’s fabulous beats. Only ever released as part of the iTunes special edition of Celebration, it might be a long shot for the setlist, but would still be fabulous with a stadium full of fans.




"LOVE PROFUSION" (2004)



Best known for its gorgeous music video filmed by Luc Besson, the last major single from American Life peaked in the UK Top 10 and topped the U.S. club charts, but was sorely absent from 2004's The Re-Invention Tour and didn’t fit into subsequent tours. Rumor has it that an electric guitar-heavy version of the 'Headcleanr Rock Mix' of "Love Profusion" was rehearsed for "Re-Invention". Like many of you, I’m still waiting to hear that incarnation on the stage!




"AMAZING" (2000)

"Amazing" is one of many masterful creations by Madonna and William Orbit. This album track from Music is also one of the gems that was conspicuously absent from 2001's The Drowned World Tour--rumor has it that a single release meant to coincide with the tour was scrapped at the last minute. It’s rock-y, it’s dance-y, and it’s an intense ode to the power of unrequited love. In other words, it’s a classic Madonna song, and it would make for an AMAZING Madonna performance, no matter the era. (I know, I know, my pun was lame.)




"SKIN" (1998)

A surreal love story and a throbbing dance track: this acclaimed album cut helped to define  the sound of Madonna and William Orbit’s Grammy-winning Ray of Light LP. Back in 1998, I was CERTAIN that "Skin" would be released as a single, and “Nothing Really Matters” would be its B-side. Alas, that never happened. “Skin” was never filmed as a video either, nor was it among the many Ray of Light cuts that made it onto the The Drowned World Tour setlist. I’m sure I’m not the only fan who has awaited its inclusion in a tour ever since.




"INSIDE OF ME" (1994)



An absolute fan favorite! This lush album cut could be interpreted any number of ways by any number of listeners, but "Inside of Me" was written about Madonna’s eternal relationship with her mother. Some have suggested that it would have been a hit single had it been the follow-up to “Take a Bow” and “Secret”, and I don’t doubt it—it is possibly my favorite track from Bedtime Stories, her first LP ever to be nominated for a “Best Pop Album” Grammy.




"THIS USED TO BE MY PLAYGROUND" (1992)

Madonna supposedly hates "This Used To Be My Playground", but I’ve NEVER met a fan who didn’t LOVE her 10th U.S. #1 single. It is Madonna the songwriter at her most mature, and Madonna the vocalist at her most empathetic. It’s tough to say if it would work onstage anywhere but at the 1993 Academy Awards, and perhaps its failure to be recognized as an Oscar-nominated song is why she's had no interest in singing it. But that doesn’t mean hearing it wouldn’t make millions of concert-goers’ dreams come true. 




"KEEP IT TOGETHER" (1989) 

"Keep It Together" hasn’t been performed since it was the closing number of both The Blond Ambition Tour and subsequently Truth or Dare. Its prominent display in both visual mediums is fitting since it was never given a music video. It was also not featured on The Immaculate Collection or Celebration, so I’m guessing it was considered a minor chart disappointment for making the US Top 10 but not The Top 5—how I miss those days in Madonna/Billboard history! With the internet having truly connected Madonna’s fanbase like a family since the 1990s, it seems that “Keep It Together” would be a pleasant surprise, and most fitting for the millions of loyal ticket-buyers who have made Madonna’s the world’s most popular touring solo artist. 




"CAUSING A COMMOTION" (1987)

The 2nd single from The Who’s That Girl Soundtrack went to #2 in the U.S. and it has not not been performed since The Blond Ambition Tour. Inspired by the animation that accompanied it in the film Who’s That Girl, "Causing a Commotion" remains endlessly listenable, and is one of the few Madonna singles from her first decade that, for better or worse, positively screams “80s!”. It felt conspicuously absent from the oldies-heavy Re-Invention World Tour—not to mention the Immaculate Collection and Celebration compilations. Could it finally enjoy an overdue second life on Madonna’s upcoming tour? 




"OPEN YOUR HEART" (1986)

"Open Your Heart" was a #1 single in America and remains one of Madonna’s most massively popular songs in every country. The fourth single from True Blue was also featured on The Immaculate Collection and Celebration, and it was sampled in both 2001’s The Drowned World Tour and the 2009 leg of The Sticky & Sweet Tour, and some lucky audiences got to enjoy its inclusion as the sing-a-along number on the 2008 leg of Sticky & Sweet. It’s not been afforded a proper performance since 1990's Blond Ambition, and I strongly suspect this greatest of singles will make its long awaited return to the stage in 2012. 




"ANGEL" (1984)


"Angel" was only ever performed on The Virgin Tour in Summer 1985, the same time that it peaked at #5 on the Billboard Hot 100. It was one of three songs conspicuously omitted from the home video version of The Virgin Tour, adding to its "lost classic" status, and it remains to this day my favorite song from the Like A Virgin LP. More than any other cut from her first two albums, I think it demonstrates in Madonna a vocal sincerity that would come to define her subsequent True Blue LP.  It’s also a timelessly delicious morsel of pop craftsmanship, and it is the ONLY one of her pre-1986 singles not to have been performed on tour or at a promo concert during the last eight years. 




"TRUE BLUE" (1986)

Like “Angel”, "True Blue" is one of Madonna’s most beloved songs, and like “Angel”, it gave her another Top 5 entry—peaking at #3 in the U.S. and #1 in the U.K. It was the title track of the bestselling studio album of her career, and a highlight of The Who’s That Girl Tour, but the musical love letter to then-husband Sean Penn hasn’t been performed since. Knowing Madonna and Sean have remained great friends, and acknowledging the worldwide celebration of True Blue’s 25th Anniversary in 2011, is it possible that one of Madonna’s most ebullient, romantic tracks will finally make a live comeback? 




"WHO'S THAT GIRL" (1987)



A #1 single in the U.S. and U.K. that provided the theme for the movie Who’s That Girl and the inspiration for The Who’s That Girl Tour. Despite its era-defining success, Madonna never performed the song after the Summer of 1987, and until 2009’s Celebration it never appeared on a Madonna compilation. Could the 25th anniversary of the song, video, tour, and film FINALLY give fans the gift of hearing it live again? 

I know I speak for many when I say that, more than ANY other song, “Who’s That Girl” would be THIS fan’s 2012 Madonna Summer dream come true!


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